Energy Efficient Lighting Solution for MinesWed, 10/21/2015 - 16:01
The benefits of LED lighting are well-known in sectors such as automotive and food storage. However, this technology presents great advantages for the mining industry as well, and one company in Mexico is already capitalizing on this opportunity. MaxiLux’s Director General Jaime Murra says that six years ago, he met a Korean company that worked with LEDs at a fair. This technology sparked a fascination that led Murra to travel to Korea and Japan to learn more about this lighting solution. “Given the evident potential of LEDs, we decided to create a firm exclusively dedicated to lighting. Lux is a measurement of illumination, hence the name of the company,” explains Murra.
Since MaxiLux’s inception, Murra has found many applications for LED lights in mining operations. One of its main advantages is low energy consumption, an attractive feature for the mining industry where energy costs are a major drain. “Many mines are located in areas without access to electricity, which means that companies have to generate their power using diesel,” details Murra. “Companies then have to decide how to distribute their electricity between lighting and operating equipment.” MaxiLux can lower its clients’ energy consumption level by implementing LED lights, which have a working life of up to 50,000 hours, resulting in companies having more electricity available for other areas of their operations. The proffered savings actually extend beyond energy consumption, since the use of LEDs affects the size of needed substations, the size of cables, and reduces the amount of losses due to conduction. Another advantage of LEDs is that they provide solid-state lighting, which means they do not use electrical filaments. This allows them to function amidst loud noise, shockwaves, and other disruptive vibrations. LEDs also do not generate heat, making them especially useful in underground mines where maintaining certain temperatures is very important. MaxiLux has also recently been working with explosionresistant lamps, which can be particularly useful in mines with high levels of gas. “When compared to other brands, MaxiLux’s explosion resistant lamps have a price difference of up to 40%,” says Murra. “Moreover, many mines have safety problems due to theft, so we provide public lighting solutions with solar panels, battery boxes, and variable frequency drives.” Beyond these more evident advantages, LEDs also have other, less obvious applications in mining. “We accidentally discovered that using LEDs prevents silver from becoming opaque. Conversely, when using incandescent lights, silver has to be cleaned every week to keep its shine,” explains Murra. Given the large variety of setups that are encountered in mines, MaxiLux provides engineering, design, and 3D blueprints for its solutions based on its customers’ needs. “We are not just a lamp store; we are more of an illumination consultancy firm that provides tailor-made solutions,” says Murra. “Our innovative ideas are evidenced by a cart it designed for CEMEX in Torreon that has become very popular in the mining exploration segment. These carts, which has a wagon with two solar panels, a retractable 9m pole, and remote control operated LED lamps, are particularly useful for exploration activities because users do not have to worry about diesel or gasoline and the lights can work nonstop for up to three days.”
The company’s product portfolio also extends beyond its own proprietary equipment since MaxiLux is an authorized distributor for Solartec, one of the few Mexican solar panel manufacturers. Solartec’s panels are useful for small and medium-sized projects, but for larger operations, MaxiLux turns to Yingli Solar, one of the world’s top three solar panel manufacturers. One issue with using Chinese products is that they have a standard voltage ranging from 85V to 265V, whereas Mexico has different voltage requirements. Despite this discrepancy, MaxiLux is able to adapt these products to CFE’s voltage characteristics although Murra explains that problems with LEDs largely concern the power source. “LEDs use direct current, but Mexico mainly uses alternating current. Current peaks do not damage the lamps but they can damage the converters.” Fortunately, MaxiLux has a good relationship with Mean Well, a wellknown power source manufacturer, which agreed to make converters adapted to Mexico’s specifications, allowing for the installation of Chinese solar panels.
A combination of all the advantages MaxiLux can provide to mining companies can be seen in its relationship with well-known mining giant Peñoles. “The CEO of Industrias Peñoles, Fernando Alanís Ortega, stated that Peñoles should exclusively use LEDs in all of its projects. MaxiLux has provided lighting solutions for Peñoles’ laboratories, offices, and mines, including Velardeña,” tells Murra. Clients also benefit from the training and capacity building sessions that MaxiLux offers. Murra recalls the time his company organized a seminar on LED lighting for SAPSA, Peñoles’ construction arm. To Murra’s surprise, SAPSA’s engineers had never worked with the type of equipment that MaxiLux was offering at the time. This helped to install MaxiLux as Peñoles’ lighting solution supplier, a major plus for the lighting company’s position in the mining sector.